The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has expressed confidence in the ability of the officials of the commission to be non-partisan and to successfully conduct the September 9 governorship election in Edo State.
He told journalists on Tuesday in Abuja that the commission is standing by the Akwa Ibom State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Mr. Mike Igini, over an allegation that he was planning to rig the elections in favour of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Edo State.
Iexclusivenews reports that the Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Media Campaign Council, Mr. John Mayaki, and Col. David Imuse accused Igini of receiving a bribe from the PDP to swing the polls in its favour. However, Igini has denied any plot with the PDP in Edo State to rig the forthcoming governorship election.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has also denied the allegations, while advising the APC to apply the brakes in what it termed ‘its all-out attacks on the nation’s critical democratic institutions’ such as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the judiciary.
Special Adviser to Edo State Governor on Media and Communication Strategy, Mr. Crusoe Osagie, gave the advice in Benin City, the Edo State capital.
According to Osagie, “APC’s endless vilification of critical democratic institutions in the country must stop. Edo people are tired of waking up to torrents of APC’s attacks on these institutions on the pages of newspapers on a daily basis. If it is not INEC today, it will be the judiciary.
“In its latest attack on INEC, APC concocted a story that INEC’s Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mike Igini, met with Governor Godwin Obaseki in Benin City. Clearly, the APC is taking its frustration, resulting from its low public rating, on everyone and anyone that is not ready to do its bidding.”
The governor’s aide declared: “there was no meeting of any kind between Governor Obaseki and Mr. Mike Igini, the INEC REC.”
Osagie noted: “After a cursory look at the newspapers, one would think that the forthcoming election in Edo State is between APC and the rest of the world, because the party has vilified and misrepresented the judiciary, INEC, the Benin Chamber of Commerce Industry, Mines and Agriculture (BENCCIMA), royal and notable families in Edo State as well as traditional institutions, like a loose cannon.”
Imuse accused Igini, a former Edo REC, of meeting with Governor Obaseki at his private residence in Benin to perfect the rigging plot.
“On August 27, we received reliable information on a secret meeting between Igini and Obaseki.
“Around 3am, Igini was seen driving into the private residence of Obaseki in Benin in company with two other known allies of Edo governor, one of whom was identified as Anselm Ojezua (former factional Chairman of APC in Edo State, who is an ally of Obaseki).
“At the meeting, Igini, Obaseki and other top PDP allies designed and examined ways and strategies to rig the outcome of the September 19 governorship election in Edo State with an exclusive focus on the production of fake ballots and the inducement of recruited INEC’s ad hoc staff, to aid the success of the rigging plans.
“Already, before the meeting, we received information, backed with proof, on Igini’s illegal conscription of youth corps members who would be playing vital roles in the conduct of the election as ad hoc staff.
“Some of the corps members volunteered information on how they were contacted by Igini and offered deals to help the PDP at the poll, in exchange for cash benefits.
“Igini was quoted by them to have personally assured them of their safety and protection against prosecution, if they accept the offer to rig the election in favour of the PDP and Obaseki.
“We also obtained photographs of Igini at Protea Hotel, Benin, where visiting National Commissioners of INEC were lodged, apparently running the errands of Obaseki and the PDP.
“He (Igini) was overheard at the hotel discussing the Edo governorship election and the recruitment of ad hoc staff. We dare Igini to deny his presence at the hotel and we shall immediately supply pictorial evidence to members of the public.
“We wish to state clearly to the public and INEC that Igini has, by his actions, declared himself an obstacle to a free and fair election in Edo State.”
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